The UK Minister of State for Immigration today announced that the Sectors-Based Scheme (SBS) would stop operating in the hospitality sector, but would continue until June 2006 in the food processing sector.
The quota based scheme, introduced on 1 May 2003, gave work permits for low skilled vacancies in the hospitality and the food-processing sectors. The current quotas for 2004/05 are 6,000 permits for food processing and 9,000 permits for hospitality. The main aim of the scheme was to alleviate the recruitment difficulties in the relevant sectors by providing employers with a means of recruiting workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
Immigration authorities, however, found that individuals from new EU member states in Eastern Europe were able to fill the restaurant jobs, and could work legally in the UK without work permits.
The decision to terminate the SBS hospitality quota does not mean that employers in this sector will immediately cease to have the benefit of non-EEA workers with the specific skills that they require.
As a transitional measure, Work Permits (UK) will continue to issue SBS permits under the existing quota for the hospitality sector until 31 July or until the current quota is exhausted, whichever comes first. In addition, many of those admitted as the holder of a SBS permit issued under the current quota have permission to remain for several more months and may remain in employment here until they are due to leave. Where employers in the hospitality sector require skilled workers from overseas, they may continue to apply for permits under the main work permit scheme.